How To Start a Travel Journal: 12 Tips for Beginners

May 08, 2024

Suze Dowling

How To Start a Travel Journal: 12 Tips for Beginners

Ever felt like your travels deserve more than just a photo album or a few posts on social media? What if you could capture every laugh, every unexpected detour, and every moment that makes your heart skip a beat?

We're going to show you how to start a travel journal that does just that and more. So, if you're ready to give your memories a home that's as vivid and vibrant as they are — keep reading!

But First, Why Start a Travel Journal Anyway?

Starting a travel journal offers numerous benefits that go beyond simple memory keeping. Here’s why every traveler should consider keeping one:

  • Preserve Your Memories: Capture the details that photographs can't — your thoughts, emotions, and the sensory experiences of your journey.
  • Enhance Your Observational Skills: Writing about your travels sharpens your attention to detail and helps you notice nuances you might otherwise miss.
  • Reflect on Your Experiences: Journals provide a space for personal reflection, helping you process and understand what you’ve learned from your travels.
  • Share Your Adventures: A travel journal can be a beautiful way to share your adventures with friends and family, offering them a glimpse into your experiences.
  • Create a Lasting Souvenir: More than just a collection of entries, your travel journal becomes a keepsake filled with personal stories and adventures.

By keeping a travel journal, you’re creating a bank of experiences that define your journey through life.

What Are Essential Tips for Starting a Travel Journal?

Starting a travel journal might seem daunting, but with a few expert tips, you'll be capturing your adventures like a pro in no time. Here's how to start:

1. Choose the Right Journal

Finding the right journal is like picking a new travel buddy — it needs to match your adventure style. Whether it's a rugged, ready-for-anything notebook or a sleek, stylish journal like our National Park & Trip Passport Bundle, the right journal should inspire you to write. Think about what feels comfortable in your hand, fits well in your travel bag, and makes you excited to open it up and spill your thoughts.

2. Start Before You Go

Your journaling journey starts before you even hit the road. Begin by jotting down your itinerary, expectations, and anything you’re particularly excited about. This could be the foods you want to try, the sights you're eager to see, or the sounds of the bustling markets you anticipate. Setting these expectations primes your senses and builds a prelude to the great stories you're about to write.

3. Date and Place Your Entries

Keep a reliable record of when and where your experiences occur by dating and placing your entries. This is to capture the moment in time and space, giving your future self a clear snapshot of where you were and what was happening. These details will transport you back to moments you might otherwise forget.

4. Capture the Small Moments

Remember those little interactions or odd sights that made you chuckle or pause for a second thought? Like the old man in the park who looked exactly like your favorite cartoon character or the kid who tried to sell you a rock. Those are gold. Jot them down. They may seem inconsequential at the time, but these are the stories you’ll share again and again. They bring the real flavor to your adventures.

5. Sketch Your Path

You don’t need to be an artist to sketch something memorable from your travels. Draw that quirky statue in the park, the layout of your cozy café corner, or just a map of your day’s wanderings. Visuals like these can break up the text and add a personal touch that photos alone can't capture.

6. Include Ticket Stubs, Photos, and Other Ephemera

Transform your journal from a collection of written words to a full-fledged travel scrapbook. Stick in those plane tickets, museum passes, and postcards. Snap a photo of that incredible meal or sunset and print it out to paste next to your description. These tangible bits of your journey add depth and texture to your memories, making your journal a multi-dimensional memento of your travels.

7. Use Prompts To Spark Memories

Stuck on what to write? Let prompts kick-start your storytelling engine. How about, "What’s the weirdest thing I saw today?" or "Who made me smile?" Simple questions like these can pull out the most engaging tales from your travels. They make sure you capture the essence of those fleeting moments.

8. Keep It Regular but Stress-Free

Don’t turn journaling into a daily grind. Yes, try to write often because habits can make your entries rich and detailed. But if life happens and you miss a day or two, don’t sweat it. Your journal is your space, free from deadlines and pressure. When you do write, let it be a joy, not a job.

9. Get a Taste of the Local Scene

Why just see the world when you can taste it, right? Next time you find yourself in a new place, chase down that food truck everyone's lining up for or try out that weird-looking local delicacy. Scribble down what it tasted like, smelled like, even how it made you feel — did it surprise you, delight you, or make you crave seconds? Your journal becomes a sort of menu of memories from all over the map.

10. Turn Strangers Into Stories

It’s the people, not just the places, that shape our travel stories. So go ahead, chat up the barista with the cool tattoo or the elderly man feeding pigeons in the square. Each person you meet can offer a unique slice of life — just a few lines in your journal about these characters can paint a vivid picture of the local culture and add a voice to your adventure.

11. Reflect on Your Experiences

Every now and then, take a step back and read through your past entries. What did you learn? How have you changed? This isn’t just about remembering what you did but understanding how these experiences have shaped you. Reflection turns simple notes into deep insights, adding layers to your travel stories that are uniquely yours.

12. Embrace the Unexpected

Here’s to the wrong turns, missed buses, and happy accidents. When things don’t go as planned, grab your journal. Documenting these unexpected moments often reveals the heart and humor in our travels. Was there a misadventure that led you to the best view of the city or a mix-up that introduced you to a new friend? These are the stories you’ll laugh about later.

Ready. Set. Write!

Now that you've got the scoop on starting a travel journal, it's time to put pen to paper and begin your own adventure in storytelling. At Letterfolk, we believe that every journey deserves to be remembered. With these tips, you're ready to transform your travel experiences into a vivid narrative that goes beyond the usual snapshots.

Whether it’s capturing the giggle-worthy gaffes or the sunset that stopped you in your tracks, your travel journal is your personal playground. So, grab our National Park & Trip Passport Bundle, and let’s turn those fleeting moments into lifelong memories. 

Ready to start journaling? Because your next great story is just a journey away. Pack your journal, and let's make some memories together!


7 benefits of keeping a journal | Kaiser Permanente

Journaling as a Social Emotional Learning Practice | Empowering Education

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Self-Reflection | Harvard Business Review

Creating visual explanations improves learning | PMC

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